Family Guide to Student Social Media Guidelines: 12 and Younger

Family members are the best people to act as positive role models for the responsible use of social media. This Parent and Family Guide was created to help you guide your children in using social media responsibly and effectively as described in the Student Social Media Guidelines: 12 and Younger.

If you have questions, please email

Create Your Digital Image

To control their own digital images, young people have four basic tools: matching their personal image with their online image, being positive, being the best person they can be, and knowing their audience. The following activities will help you work with your child to create the right online image.

Activities and Advice

Headline Exercise

Show your child headlines featured in a magazine, newspaper or online site and talk with them about how the headlines might make you see a person in a good or bad way. Talk about what the headlines of friends and family members might be if they were in a magazine or newspaper and whether they would be good or bad.

Next, have your child pretend they are the subject of a newspaper article and write what would they want the headline of the article to be. Review the types of photos and posts your child has in their online profiles and postings. Do they match the headline they would like to see? If not, how might future posts address that?

You can also watch the “One Sentence Project” video to hear how other students have answered this question.

Why it Helps
  • It gets the child thinking about how they sees themselves. It also helps them see how their digital image affects how people see them.
  • Helps the child see how their online posts can be controlled to stay positive.


Google yourself, your child, and other friends and family. What are the results? Are you surprised by any posts? Does someone else come up? What can people do to separate their names online (for example, use a middle name)? Click on an image or website you are not sure of to find out the original source. Did a friend or family member post something without you knowing about it?

Note: Do this activity on your own before doing it with your child. This way you will be better prepared to talk about what you find.

Why it Helps
  • It starts a conversation about photo and media consent
  • It lets your child know that they have to be always aware of their digital image

Imagining Your Audience

Remind your child that many people are possible audience members online. What would they like their teacher to see? How about a middle school they want to go to? What if something they posted became a big news story? Discuss what they can do to correctly manage their online image.

Why it Helps

It helps the child see how they can take control of their online image.

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Post Responsibly

As a parent, you play a key role in ensuring your child is posting correctly and protecting his or her personal info online. The DOE Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy tells parents that they are responsible for teaching their set of family values to their children.

This is your responsibility even when your child is doing homework or any school assignment. You can help your child post in ways that best shows the values of your family.

Activities and Advice

Select Privacy Settings Together

Sign up for social media sites with your child. Read the privacy settings and rules together. Talk about ways to protect your child’s privacy such as not giving out their address and birthday.

Why it Helps

It helps your child learn about the importance of privacy.

Smart Search Strategies

Pay attention to where your child goes online. You may want to think about using parental controls, filtering software such as K9 Web Protection, NetNanny, or safe searching on certain sites. Talk with your child about sites or searches that you believe are unsafe or risky. Also, speak to your child about what they should do if they find a bad site.

Why it Helps

It allows you as a parent to control the info your child is able to see online.

Current Events

Most of us know someone who has been in the public spotlight if only for a short time. Maybe you know someone who was captured in “Humans of New York.” Perhaps your friend was watching a parade and was interviewed. These stories provide a chance to talk about how to handle the situation and post responsibly online. See what happens in social media when those you know are part of a story. Remember, don’t just talk about what not to do. It is also important to look at examples of people using social media in a positive way.

Why it Helps

Keeps the conversation current and real. It provides a quick answer to the question, “Why do we need to know this?”

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Consider the Consequences of Your Online Actions

It’s important for students to think through the effects of their online behavior. They also must be careful about both the websites they visit and who they are talking with online. Students don’t always realize that what they do outside of school can have effects at school. This is especially true online.

Activities and Advice

Don’t Post Sensitive Personal Information

Explain to your child why it is unsafe to post your address, birth date, or other personal info and what identity theft means. Use real examples.

Why it Helps

It creates clear ground rules and highlights the importance of protecting certain info.

Keep Information Private

Talk to your child about not sharing passwords with friends and make sure you both know how to prevent computers you share with others from automatically saving passwords. (For example, always log off when you have finished using a site – don’t just close the browser.) Let your children know that they can be held responsible for another person’s actions when that person uses their online accounts to post info or buys something.

Why it Helps

It opens the conversation about how important it is to protect oneself, in both the real and digital worlds.

Parental Notification

Schools should notify parents each year about school or classroom-based social media activities. If you haven’t heard anything, talk to your child’s teacher, and your child. Find out about what kinds of social media activity, if any, is part of their classroom work. Talk about the school’s use of social media with your child the same way you would talk about other school work.

Why it Helps

It keeps you aware of what’s happening in your child’s school. This will help you can take actions to support and guide his social media use.

Be Aware of Your Child’s Behavior Online

Some families keep a copy of their child’s online usernames and passwords; others have a place where all family passwords are kept in case of emergency. Set rules for what behavior is allowed online for your family and talk about the Student Social Media Guidelines at home.

Why it Helps

It helps you stay aware of what’s taking place online. It also helps children to know their parents are there to help them with safe and responsible use of social media.

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Take Threats of Cyberbullying Seriously

Cyberbullying is the use of electronic technologies to hurt or harass others. Examples include creating or forwarding mean or hurtful text messages or emails, posts that are not true and create rumors, and embarrassing photos. Some signs of cyberbullying (both being bullied, and bullying) are: removing themselves from daily activities, getting upset when online or texting, quickly closing out of sites when an adult walks by, or avoiding questions about what she is doing on the computer. The guidelines give students ideas about what to do when someone they know is being targeted, or if they are being targeted themselves. They also provide info on who you can contact for support.

Activities and Advice

Discuss Cyberbullying

Review the social media guidelines with your child and talk about what cyberbullying means. Talk about examples and why this behavior could hurt someone’s feelings or make someone upset.

Why it Helps

Helps your child understand what cyberbullying is and how it can be harmful.

Know What to Do If Your Child is the Bully

If you suspect your child is bullying someone, it’s important to know about the situation. Try to find out the reasons and come up with a plan to deal with and correct the behavior with your child. Your child’s school Respect for All liaison or guidance counselor can help you with this.

Why it Helps

Families don’t need to go through these situations alone. The DOE has professionals and resources to support you.


Role Play Being an Upstander

When your child sees that someone they knows is not being treated with respect, encourage them to support the victim. They can do that by privately telling the victim that he is sorry for what she is going through or by speaking up publicly. Try to find real examples of this from your life or in the media. Talk with your child about the different ways they might respond. Next do a role play to act out how this might work.

Why it Helps
  • It shows that there are other ways to fix a problem other than bullying.
  • Standing up against abuse can give your child a good feeling about themselves and consideration for those around them.

Search for Opportunities to Make a Positive Contribution

Encourage your child to stay positive online. Point out examples of others who participate this way. Talk with your child about the different ways they can keep things positive online or join positive communities.

Why it Helps

Helps you show your child how social media can be used positively.

Find Out More

Visit the infohub for  staff social media guidelines.